Improving Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology in China through FETP: Graduates' Success Stories
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) remain the leading health threat, resulting in 41 million global deaths annually. In China, NCDs are responsible for approximately 88% of all deaths, with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) accounting for 46% in 2019. The China Field Epidemiology Training Program (CFETP) established an advanced-level NCD track to address these issues. The two-year program aiming to build technical capacity in NCD epidemiology, surveillance, and response has established five NCD cohorts and produced 15 graduates.
The CFETP NCD training prepares trainees with skills to design actionable NCD prevention and control measures, which they are now applying to benefit local communities. Here are a few of their post-graduation success stories.
In China, only 11.0% of the 305 million people with hypertension have their blood pressure under control. Jingqiao Xu, a staff member for the NCD Department at the Anhui CDC, applies her NCD skills to focus on the pathway, process, and evaluation of salt reduction for hypertension prevention and control.
Li Sixuan, a member of the NCD Department at the Ningbo CDC, devotes her time to identifying population at high risk of developing hypertension and helping them keep a healthy lifestyle. Li applies her process management training to hypertensive patients; she “hopes to identify potential issues better and understand the actual outcome of hypertension management.”
Zhou Suhua responded to the COVID-19 pandemic after graduation. She has switched focus now to improving mental health. She supports developing a province-wide mental health service system, including establishing a mental health professional team, promoting a standardized mental health service sector, and exploring a new mental health service delivery model. Additionally, she serves as an FETP mentor for provincial trainees and has supported five Frontline graduates.
Within a few years of graduation, Zhao Yanfang became a subproject leader and principal investigator. She leads a WHO international cooperation project on a systematic review and evaluation of NCD prevention and control strategies and related behavioral risk factors in China at the NCD Center for China CDC. She also participated in two national research and development projects on 1) collecting and sharing standard mechanisms for population-based cancer registration data, hospital diagnosis, and treatment data and 2) constructing management mechanisms and models for NCD prevention and management. Zhao has published six papers in Chinese and two in English.
Xu Chunxiao gained her confidence in project management through the program, in 1) early screening and integrated intervention for those at elevated risk of developing CVD and 2) hypertension compliance initiative.
All graduates are working in NCDs and have applied their training to their current work. They feel that the program has broadened their perspective and sharpened their NCD data analysis and project management skills. Liu Yi expresses a commonly shared observation by the graduates as key to their post-graduation success. She states, “I finally understand why CFETP emphasized fieldwork, because only by going deep into the field will we find problems not expected in theory, and it is only by solving these problems in the field we can get close to the real-life data.”